Hamas Cheers International Court Decision; Israel and US Call It ‘Tragic’

Human Shields: Gaza rocket site in civilian areas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of IDF Spokesperson

Human Shields: Gaza rocket site in civilian areas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of IDF Spokesperson

The International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague has accepted the Palestine “state” as a member and opened a preliminary examination into claims of war crimes in Israel, a decision praised by the terrorist Hamas organization. Israel and the United States expressed their strong opposition to the ICC’s move, noting that the very time period considered by the ICC—starting last summer—involved Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

“It is the democracy of Israel, a world leader in fighting terrorism, which is to be hauled to the dock in The Hague, while the terrorist war criminals of Hamas are the ones who are going to be pressing the charges. I won’t be surprised if ISIS, al-Qaida and Hezbollah follow suit,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. The Americans expressed a similar perspective, with both nations challenging the ICC’s allowance of the unrecognized “state” of Palestine to enter the ICC.

The US State Department released an unusually stern statement noting they “strongly disagree” with the ICC Prosecutor’s action. “As we have said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC,” the State Department said. “It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC.”

Tragedy was a theme of the reaction to the decision, with Netanyahu also noting the disconnect between the ICC’s efforts to prevent war crimes and the groups that will now be allowed to use the ICC to persecute Israel.

“So we see here something truly tragic,” said Netanyahu. “The lofty goals of the ICC are being turned upside-down. The court was founded to prevent a repeat of history’s worst crimes, foremost among them the genocide of six million Jews.

“Now the Palestinians are cynically manipulating the ICC to deny the Jewish state the right to defend itself against the very war crimes and the very terror that the court was established to prevent.”

The ICC decision, according to a press release on their website, argued that they have an “all states” approach to their membership, and since the Palestinians were accorded “non-member observer state” status by the United Nations General Assembly in a non-binding vote, the ICC had to accept them. This decision was reached despite the fact that the Palestinians do not meet a key internationally-recognized state criteria—a defined territory—and have been twice unsuccessful in statehood applications to the legally-binding UN Security Council.

The ICC noted their examination is not a full investigation as of yet. It must first review the situation before deciding if an investigation into this past summer’s conflict between Israel and Gaza terrorists, including the events leading up to the fight, warrant a more serious look.

Hamas, according to the Ma’an News Agency, plans to send thousands of documents to the ICC regarding claims of war crimes by Israel.

For their part, Israel rejected the ICC decision. The US underscored that it would “continue to oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive to the cause of peace.”

Said Netanyahu, “It’s absurd for the ICC to go after Israel, which upholds the highest standards of international law. Our actions are subject to the constant and careful review of Israel’s world-renowned and utterly independent legal system.

“But this decision is even more preposterous given that Israel is legitimately defending itself against Palestinian terrorists who routinely commit multiple war crimes. They deliberately fire thousands of rockets at our civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians whom they use a human shield.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 17, 2015)

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